New EU Directive on Violence Against Women leaves out migrant women

© Volkan Olmez
© Volkan Olmez

EU lawmakers have reached a political agreement on a new EU Directive on violence against women that prioritises migration control over women’s rights and needs, according to leaked documents seen by the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM).

The draft Directive, whose final text will need to be voted by the European Parliament and the EU Council in the coming weeks, fails to protect undocumented women from immigration enforcement should they report violence and abuse to police.

In particular, the deal would delete Article 16(5), which was central to the European Commission’s initial proposal and strengthened by the Parliament to ensure that no personal data about victims of abuse, including residence status, would be shared by police with immigration authorities. This would have shielded undocumented women from risks of being detained and deported as a result of reporting abuse.

Instead, that article would be replaced with a non-binding recital 26(a) that invites member states to ensure that non-EU victims “are not discouraged from reporting and are treated in a non-discriminatory manner”.

Such exclusion of a whole group of women from protection and justice is in clear contradiction with the Istanbul Convention, which the EU is bound by since October 2023 and mandates its signatories to ensure all women are treated equally, regardless of their residence status.

This deal would also contradict the EU’s very own rules on victims’ rights (Victims’ Rights Directive) and on data protection (General Data Protection Regulation), both of which provide for rights and safeguards that apply to everyone without discrimination.

Louise Bonneau, Advocacy Officer at PICUM, said: “Who would report violence and abuse if they risked being locked up and deported instead of getting support and protection? This deal exemplifies the EU’s fixation on migration control, at the cost of leaving out a whole group of women who are undocumented or have precarious residence status, and who are more likely to experience violence and abuse precisely because their status puts them in a situation of vulnerability.”